September 29, 2003

Dear Teachers,

I am writing to alert you to the fact that my daughter, K, has an IEP to address learning issues as a result of Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD). The following modifications are expected according to the IEP:

NLD affects people in three major areas; there are 

K has experienced difficulty in each of these areas, and as she grows the area in which she experiences the most difficulty changes. Currently, she seems most affected in the 
visual-spatial/organizational area. 

K is an extremely auditory learner and will rely on her listening skills in an educational setting.. K also is very literal, and does not infer well. Adults need to be very specific in giving her directions, and she may need to repeat them back to ensure that she actually understood. You may also find that she may misinterpret something that is said; if she seems to be way 
off-track, you may want to think back to the exact words you used. At home we often realize that we phrased something in such a way that when K interpreted it literally we unintentionally created a problem in understanding of expectations. This trait also translates into K being unable to “take a hint” or make inferences; she may not know what you expect unless you tell her exactly what your expectations are. 

K’s visual-spatial difficulties also mean that K is incapable of making mental images. This affects her numerous ways. For example, it affects her reading comprehension, as she may not “see” the characters, setting, action, etc. in her mind. Her comprehension may improve when she reads aloud, as her actual reading ability is very good. She also may have difficulty 
summarizing or finding the main idea in assignments- a hallmark trait of NLD is the ability to “see the trees but not the forest.” K is very detail-oriented and usually misses the big picture. For this reason study guides are an absolute must!

Lacking mental images also affects K’s short-term memory, as she tries to remember every word in directions or steps in a process word-for-word. K actually tries to repeat back (mentally) to herself each word exactly as the adult said, and of course, this can be quite difficult. Directions should be “chunked” into manageable parts. Certain worksheets and assignments may also present a problem to K due to her visual-spatial issues. She may occasionally skip a question or misalign rows on a bubble test, though she’s really improved her ability to do these correctly. Maps, charts, or any other strongly visual item will definitely require modification for K to be successful. This includes activities such as reading music or following pictures during labs.  At this time, she is unable to create clear charts or visual organizers; she does a fair job, but the finished product often will not look grade-level appropriate. Please remember this when grading such work, or allow her to use a computer-generated version. K’s visual-spatial difficulties also affect her proof-reading ability, as she doesn’t often “see” where corrections are needed. Therefore, specific directions, step-by-step, may be needed.

The organizational difficulties that come with NLD may occasionally cause K to misplace papers or bring the wrong materials to class. Please realize that this is a part of her disability. K also may need some supervision to be sure that she has the correct information regarding homework assignments. For big projects, K needs more supervision than most, just to make sure that she is on track and understands the assignment and teacher expectations. She often expresses confusion about project expectations at home; this is not because she doesn’t pay attention, it’s caused by her inability to visualize tasks as they are described by the teacher. Most of us rely on making mental images as we listen to directions to help us understand what we will be doing, but students with NLD rely on words only, and it’s more difficult to remember a 
long string of words. 

K no longer receives occupational therapy for her visual-spatial and motoric issues, but instead consults with Sandy. K can write legibly and is familiar with a keyboard for typing. Honestly, though, her ability to use scissors is very impaired. She will not be able to complete any creative projects without assistance at home, and should not be penalized for receiving such 
assistance. I am always very careful to ensure that the ideas and work reflect her conception of the assignment, but I may provide assistance with the actual materials. She may also need direct supervision/assistance during science labs.

Socially, K experienced a great amount of growth and she now has a strong inner group of friends. She also is a cheerleader for the township. You will undoubtedly find her friendly and easy-going. My goal for K is not to protect her from reality by providing her with accommodations and modifications, but to provide specific interventions for her as they are needed, with the hope and expectation that she will need less assistance and will be more capable of compensating as she grows older.

Please feel free to contact me whenever necessary! I look forward to K having a terrific year!